I'm told that my hair sucks. I live near Atlanta. Help?
February 10, 2013 5:50 PM   Subscribe

A couple of weeks ago, my wife took mercy on me and told me that my hair looks ridiculous. The words she used were "it's dated" and "sometimes I cringe when you go out like that." OK then, message received. Here's the problem: I have no clue what I would want it to look like. I can fit what I want into three very broad parameters:

1) I want something age-appropriate (I'm 41 and male) but not extremely conservative. "Politician hair" is the absolute last thing I want.
2) Medium length at the shortest. No buzzcuts, shaves, Caesars, high-and-tights, or anything else that might look like those from a distance.
3) I have a bit of grey, about 5% if I had to guess, but I rather like it.

So, based on that, I have two questions: First, am I begging for disaster if I go see a stylist with only those boundaries in mind; and second, can anyone recommend a salon and/or stylist in Atlanta (I'm in Cobb, so preferably there or ITP) that is known for doing a pretty good job with the completely clueless? I'm more than willing to spend a few bucks for some good professional advice, but would prefer to keep the whole thing under a hundred if possible.

(This was posted previously, but a hell of a lot can change in five years, so I'm looking for a more recent recommendation if possible.)
posted by deadmessenger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total)
What does your hair look like now? Can you post a picture?
posted by amaire at 5:53 PM on February 10, 2013

If your wife thought it was a good idea to tell you that she doesn't like your hair, she ought to finish the job and actually suggest a hairstyle that would suit you better.
posted by Nomyte at 5:56 PM on February 10, 2013 [23 favorites]

First, am I begging for disaster if I go see a stylist with only those boundaries in mind

No! That's exactly what you should be doing. The fewer the boundaries the better. Go to someone competent, of course, but making people look good through haircuts is the actual job of a stylist -- let them do it.
posted by brainmouse at 5:56 PM on February 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Richie did it for me when I had to make a drastic change.



posted by Exchequer at 5:58 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can you post a picture, and what is your hair's texture (thick, fine, curly, straight) and your current hair care regimen (shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, brylcreem)?
posted by sweetkid at 5:59 PM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Where do you currently get your hair cut? If at Supercuts or you do it at home, or maybe if you see an elderly barber who is behind the times, simply switching to a real salon will probably fix this without any real thought on your part.

$100 for a men's haircut in Atlanta will do beyond nicely. You could probably find a good place for $50.

I don't know Atlanta well, but if it works like other major cities, the hipper the neighborhood is, the hipper the salons will be. Think of what neighborhood you wish people thought you lived in, or make some associations with neighborhoods and different looks. For a "good for a 41 year old dude" look, I'd probably pick somewhere nominally cooler than where you actually hang out, but not, like, hipster central. Also, assuming you're hetero, not a gayborhood.
posted by Sara C. at 6:01 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a few years younger than you but shaved, so I can't recommend my hair style.

I agree that if you wife said she doesn't like your current hair (and a picture would help - feel free to mosaic your face), it is up to her to drop the other shoe and suggest what would be a becoming hair style. This is a nicer way of saying the management maxim, "don't come to me with your problem until you have a solution."

Regarding your first question, most every salon has books full of pictures of various hairstyles. Go to the salon, find a picture you like, and say, "make my hair look like that". I am sure there are websites that also have pictures of hairstyles. I do not recommend giving a hairstylist wide boundaries.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:21 PM on February 10, 2013

a couple of ideas. ask your wife for suggestions/pics or have her go with you to the salon. also, take pictures of haircuts with you that you like. it's also good to take a pic of what you don't want if you are concerned you might not be communicating clearly. visuals are a good way to communicate with stylists as descriptions are tough to translate.

Short in the back, but long in the front.

personally, i always like this on men. but rather than charlemagne's rockabilly look i'm thinking of david bowie circa 1980s.
posted by wildflower at 6:26 PM on February 10, 2013

I'd prefer not to post a picture publicly, but I guess I should clarify that I'm not looking for advice on the hairstyle itself - just on where to go to get decent advice. If you really really need to see my hair to give advice, memail me and I'll find a link somewhere that I can send you.

That having been said, it's fine textured, somewhat wavy if left to dry on its own, and long. Not thinning as far as I can tell. My wife has done every haircut I've had for the last 20 years, but they've been VERY simple, just basic end trimming. She did make one reasonably decent recommendation (face shape and coloring are pretty close, actually), but I'm really not sure I can pull it off.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:30 PM on February 10, 2013

The key to getting a good haircut, apart from bringing in pictures of people who look somewhat like you with hair you like, is being absolutely honest with the hair stylist what your everyday hairstyling regime is.

Getting a cut that only looks good if it's blown dry with pomade is a disaster if what you do every morning is run a comb through it and let it air dry with no product.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:36 PM on February 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

If you'd like, you could post a photo to Imgur or Flickr temporarily, linking it here and then deleting it after you had gotten useful advice from this thread.
posted by estlin at 7:40 PM on February 10, 2013

Search for a man’s hair on tumblr that you wish to emulate. Take pictures to the barber shop. Go to a barber shop that makes you make appointments.

I’m really into this Morrissey one.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:51 PM on February 10, 2013

pssst - Joe Manganiello's hairstyle? High maintenance. High. HIGH. It looks like casual long oily hair. That looks good. That requires a lot of work.

Most celebrity hairstyles are super high maintenance. Even buzz- and shorter cuts.

Be honest with yourself with regards to how much effort you're willing to put into grooming your hairstyle (and how often you're willing to go in for 'maintenance' cuts). Almost all styles will require pomade/product and at least a little blow-drying work every day. (Unless you're seriously genetically gifted, and then, a "good" cut is going to help a ton.)

OTOH, let your wife give you a similar longer cut and stop using shampoo (but wash your hair thoroughly every day with plenty of hot water) for a week. There are a few tricks - maybe look up blower brush curl on youtube to figure out how to curl your hair in the right direction/shape.

posted by porpoise at 8:23 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Going to a barber or hairdresser for advice on what haircut you should get is going to be very frustrating for them and for you. Their job is to try to make your hair look the way you want to look. They don't know what you want if you don't know what you want. No really, they have no idea what is "best" if you can't give them a place to start. They're going to take you to the book of hairstyles and tell you to point to what you want, so you may as well do that part in advance.

Now, once you're showing them pictures of what you might want, THEN you're in their world of expertise. They can tell you where your desired look is or is not compatible with your hair's thickness, coarseness, waves, curls, cowlicks, limpness, hairline, whatever. They might advise you to go a little shorter or a little longer than perhaps you expected in order for the haircut to work. They can take into consideration your willingness to use certain hairstyling products or not, and how often you can come in for a haircut.
posted by desuetude at 8:33 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just go to a well reviewed or recommended salon and give the stylist your requirements. Maybe bring some photos if you want to narrow it down. It's a stylists job to figure this stuff out, and they will.
posted by Kololo at 11:39 PM on February 10, 2013

Nthing that you really need some strong words about how much maintenance you're going to do. Every stylist I've met has been absolutely convinced that I would switch to using the blow dryer and product once I saw how awesome my hair looked with their fancy pants hair cut. (It does look awesome. But not an hour a day and having breathing problems from all the fragrance awesome.)
posted by anaelith at 3:39 AM on February 11, 2013

My husband has a similar cut to that photo. It is not high maintenance if your hair naturally falls that way. He does sometimes use gel if he feels like his hair is too poufy/curly on any given day.

But yeah, shorter is always going to be less daily effort, depending on how much your hair curls/poufs in humidity.
posted by Ollie at 4:21 AM on February 11, 2013

Husbunny and I get our hair cut at the Aveda Institute on Peachtree. It's $15 per cut, and while students cut our hair, they are looked over by the instructors and my hair has never looked better.

We're older, but our hair always looks current without being silly for our age or position in life (no pink feathers).
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:58 AM on February 11, 2013

I'd probably pick somewhere nominally cooler than where you actually hang out, but not, like, hipster central. Also, assuming you're hetero, not a gayborhood.
posted by Sara C. at 9:01 PM on February 10 [marked as best answer | unmark] [1 favorite +] [!]

So, before I posted this question, I had a short list of well-reviewed salons I was considering. Every single one of them are in one of Atlanta's "gayborhoods." I just always figured that most of the gay men I know look exceptionally well put-together, and they're probably getting their hair cut somewhere local. Now I've added a few more beans to my plate and am rethinking that.

Thanks to everyone who responded!
posted by deadmessenger at 9:18 AM on February 11, 2013

Make sure to ask the stylist to show you how to achieve the style, and to allow you to practice in in front of them before you leave. If they won't do that for you, then find another stylist.
posted by telophase at 10:19 AM on February 11, 2013

The best haircut and shave I ever received was at Gino's Classic Barbershop in Atlanta. You should check it out!
posted by brand-gnu at 11:33 AM on February 11, 2013

I wouldn't worry about the gayborhood thing. If it's a good place, the stylist will take a look at you and give you a cut that matches your style/persona. (I dress in a sort of classic-with-a-twist way, and get my hair cut in a place where most of the clients and staff have a bajillion piercings and architectural haircuts and everyone has, like, green highlights or whatever. But my stylist is good, so gives me a slightly edgy cut that suits me, because she wants to make me happy, because she's a good stylist who assesses each client individually.)

A good stylist will give you a good cut, go to the well reviewed places you identified!

And don't sweat this too too much - it's just hair, and if you don't fall in love with your cut you can either cut it again, or you can wait a month or two and it'll grow out anyway. Haircuts are seriously low-risk!
posted by Kololo at 11:51 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just a follow up: Tim from Helmet did a fantastic job. Basically, I made an appointment, told him the stuff in my post above, admitted that I was clueless about anything beyond that, and let him run with it. My hair looks better than it has in years, and my wife (who went along for moral support) isn't cringing any more.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:00 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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